Life and Death

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After I’m Dead

November 26, 2017

Even though I’m well into mid-life and already straddling the age when men start dropping like flies, I still haven’t drawn up a will – living or otherwise. I haven’t had “the discussion” with any of my friends or co-workers and none of my relatives will return my phone calls, so if I suddenly meet with my demise, no one will know what do to with all my earthly belongings, money, assets and more importantly, my corpse.

Granted, there’s not much to haggle over. The list probably wouldn’t fill a double-spaced Post-it, but they’re all I have and I don’t want my TV and water pique going to someone I don’t even know at the Salvation Army. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to spell out my final wishes. All of you survivors can fight over who gets to implement them.

What you end up doing with my body has a lot to do with the way I go. While I’ll admit that I haven’t exactly treated my body like a temple, my cholesterol is still lower than my I.Q., so there’s not much chance that I’ll have a heart attack during a bowel movement. On the other hand, I am into a lot of high-risk activities like running with scissors and asking women how much they weigh, so there is a good chance that the body you end up with for viewing won’t necessarily be completely intact. If I die playing around with my chainsaw, you’ll need to borrow an arm, leg or a foot from the mortuary to shove into my funeral suit. If one of my handguns misfired, you might need to fill in the damage to my face with some Spackle, then cover it with a heavy layer of Maybelline. All I ask is that the parts match and I retain a modicum of my original ethnicity. read more

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The Golden Era of Cigarette Ads

October 22, 2017

When Sir Walter Raleigh helped to popularize tobacco during the 16th century, he probably had no idea that he would be responsible for one of the largest and most profitable advertising campaigns in the history of Madison Avenue. Campaigns that would see a single product go from lifestyle enhancement to a pariah of the medical community within a matter of years.

Give Me Your Young at Heart

Before their negative association with health, cigarettes were marketed to successful young men and women as a way to relax and get more out of life.  Advertisements were filled with virile, athletic men and women prancing around tennis courts in snow-white shorts exclaiming,

“WHAT A DAY… what a game… what a cigarette! Why is Lucky so much a part of moments like this?”

Like any other product that clamored for the consumer’s attention, the multi-million dollar tobacco industry embarked on a constantly evolving campaign to come up with original reasons why smokers should buy their brand of cigarettes over the others: read more

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Those Good Old Time Diseases

August 25, 2017

I was a first-grader at Van Nuys Elementary School the first time I came into contact with the medical system. As a healthy child, the only thing that slowed me down was the occasional off-color weenie on “Hot Dog Friday.” None of the hair-netted ladies behind the steam table thought for a minute that I could have something as serious as Ptomaine Poisoning and wouldn’t have been able to recognize it even if I had. Instead, one of them took off her apron and marched me downstairs to the nurse’s office where she laid me down on an old army cot that smelled of other 6-year-old kids.

Nurse Blumenthal looked like every other grammar school nurse – a clinical version of the Pillsbury Doughboy with a red cross centered squarely on the front of her hat. She was probably a cracker-jack clinician at some point in her career. But, you could sense that 30 years of working nights at the V.A. hospital had eroded her diagnostic skills to the point where she was grateful just to have a place to spend the twilight years of her career. read more

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Watching Grandma Circle the Drain

July 26, 2017

There’s only so many ways you can get rid of a dead body. Regardless of how it got that way – stabbed, shot, bludgeoned, run over by a truck, pummeled, poisoned, choked, tossed off a building or just withered from old age – its final demise has to be handled with care.

Up until recently, you only had two choices. You could bury Grandma in a casket or cremate her. Both cost a lot of money and take weeks of planning. Or, if money’s tight, you could always drive into the middle of the desert in the dead of night, dig a hole by the glow of your car’s headlights and toss Grammy in – sort of the Home Depot approach to traditional funeral services. It’s done all the time – at least in gangster movies.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, funerals can cost between $6,500 and $10,000. Cremations can be significantly cheaper, at $800. But then, there’s that nagging question of what to do with those messy ashes. Do I keep them in an urn on top of the mantel or do I put them in a box out in the shed? And, who gets to keep them? What if I lose them? read more

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Toad-ally High

April 20, 2017

If you think you’ve already tried all of the traditional ways of getting high such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy and are looking for a new disgusting, unhygienic way to leave the planet earth for a while, then look no further than the banks of the Colorado River.

Hopping along the river’s shores in southern Arizona, California and northern New Mexico, the “Bufo Alvarius Toad” (also called the “Cane Toad” or “Colorado River Toad”) would otherwise be in danger of being a wolf’s or Gila Monster’s main course if it weren’t for a highly toxic venom it produces whenever it gets agitated – the same venom that can get you high as a kite if properly ingested.

The venom produced by the Bufo Alvarius Toad is a concentrated chemical called “bufotenine” that also happens to contain the hallucinogen, “5-MeO-DMT.” Ingested directly from the toad’s skin in toxic doses, bufotenine is powerful enough to kill dogs and other small animals. However, when ingested in other ways – such as smoking – the toxic bufotenine  burns off leaving only 5-MeO-DMT that can produce an intense, albeit, short-lived rush that has been described as “100 times more powerful than LSD or magic mushrooms,” even if it takes a lot more work to get it. read more

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